FIR filed against relative of winning candidate in mumbai north west election over alleged protocol breach

Police investigate Mangesh Vasant Pandilkar and ENCORE operator for mobile phone usage inside vote-counting centre as election controversy deepens.; close victory margin and allegations of irregularities prompt legal and police scrutiny in highly contested Mumbai constituency.
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In a dramatic turn of events following the contentious Mumbai North West Lok Sabha election, Vanrai police have filed an FIR against Mangesh Vasant Pandilkar, a relative of winning candidate Ravindra Waikar, for allegedly breaching election protocols by using a mobile phone inside the vote-counting centre. The FIR also names Dinesh Gurav, an ENCORE (poll portal) operator with the Election Commission, for allegedly handing his device to Pandilkar.

Background and allegations

The election, which saw Waikar secure victory by a mere 48 votes over Shiv Sena (UBT) candidate Amol Kirtikar, has been mired in controversy. Kirtikar has claimed large-scale manipulation and irregularities in the counting process and is preparing to challenge the election results in court. A detailed story on this can be read at Sabrang.

Suchitra Krunal Amle Patil, an additional assistant election adjudicating officer, lodged the complaint leading to the FIR. She was assigned to the NESCO centre in Goregaon, where the vote counting took place. On June 4, Patil received a report that a mobile phone, strictly prohibited inside the centre, had been found. The device in question was allegedly used by Pandilkar, handed to him by Gurav despite clear regulations against such actions.

Legal implications and police investigation

The FIR against Pandilkar and Gurav is registered under Sections 188 and 134 of the Indian Penal Code, and Section 134 of The Representation of the People Act. The police have requested CCTV footage from the Election Commission’s returning officer and are scrutinizing the call records to determine the purpose and extent of the mobile phone usage.

As reported by Mid-day, a police officer involved in the case stated, “We will check call records to see whom Pandilkar had called and for what purpose. The reason why he was using the mobile phone inside the centre will also be ascertained. We will also arrest Pandilkar and Gurav for violating EC rules and guidelines during the counting of votes.”

Reactions from the parties involved

Kirtikar and his supporters have been vocal about their concerns regarding the fairness of the election. The discovery of the mobile phone inside the counting centre adds to the list of grievances Kirtikar has cited, which include allegations of EVM tampering and procedural lapses in the handling of voting equipment.

Waikar, who has maintained his innocence, is facing increased scrutiny as the investigation progresses. The close margin of his victory has only intensified the spotlight on the allegations.

Moving forward

As the investigation unfolds, the spotlight remains on the integrity of the electoral process in one of Mumbai’s key constituencies. The case not only questions the specific incidents of alleged malpractice but also raises broader concerns about the mechanisms in place to ensure free and fair elections.

Amol Kirtikar’s pursuit of legal recourse and the police investigation’s findings will be pivotal in determining the next steps. With the stakes so high, transparency and adherence to due process are paramount to maintaining public trust in the democratic process.

The unfolding events in Mumbai North West are a reminder of the critical importance of vigilance and integrity in electoral practices, as they form the cornerstone of a functioning democracy.

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